This week I asked my daughter for a minute.
I asked if I could say I'm sorry for something I did a few days back that had been wearing on my heart. She dropped everything and said sure. She came right over.
I told her about when her shoes were missing at a friend's house and we looked and looked... and when we couldn't find them anywhere our friend assured us we could pick them up another day and I agreed... then I sighed and said "goodbye shoes."
It may sound like nothing.
My tone wasn't mean. It was fairly matter of fact. Maybe it seemed like no big deal at the time or no big deal reading this now.
Except for two things:
I know my daughter.
And I knew in that moment just as I know right now that my intention, seeping through the subtle edges my tone, was to shame her. To make her feel badly for forgetting where she took them off and for the time it took to look in the yard and in the rooms, upstairs and down.
I knew when I said it it was hurtful.
I was irritated and ready to leave and annoyed that I had let my attention drift away from the time. I was living halfway in the future, thinking about a late bedtime and tomorrow and…
Wanting things to be different.
Fighting with reality.
"She shouldn't have lost her shoes."
In retrospect, I shouldn't have lost my mind.
I shouldn't have lost my heart.
I shouldn't have lost my compassion.
I shouldn't have lost myself.
So I said it.
I knew it stung, at least a little.
Nights passed. Each night I would have a moment of remembering, planning to apologize. The next day would come, with all my distractions, I would find myself in bed again making plans to repair it.
Five days passed and the day came when I asked if I could apologize.
I retold the story.
I said "goodbye shoes" again, but this time with no edge. I told her I knew at the time how hurtful it was and how I've thought about it every night since and kept getting distracted… Until today.
And that I'm sorry.
I'm sorry I said that in that way and that I hurt her.
She interrupted to forgive me, told me she understood that sometimes I make mistakes too.
The longer I talked, the more she seemed to come back to those feelings, the hurt and the confusion and the shame. She cried and let me comfort her. I felt so grateful she didn't have to carry that anymore. I felt grateful for the chance to help make sense of what happened and apologize and do what I could to repair it with her. And I felt relieved I didn't have to carry it any longer too.
This moment might seem too small, too human to repair. But moving forward without addressing it is not only confusing, it sacrifices trust. It depletes the energy of love and safety and the very "no matter what-ness" that I aspire for my relationship with my children to be.
I'm grateful for another chance.
I'm grateful to be forgiven and to model asking for forgiveness.
I'm grateful for time to place my attention on the small moments that feel contracted in my body, when I know I'm operating from fear instead of love.
I'm grateful for not waiting for something bigger to apologize for, but to value each time I fall away from love as an opportunity to repair and to heal.
That day and the few days that followed, I noticed extra "joining up." She seemed to have enthusiasm for being part of our team again. I couldn't sense that it was missing from her until it returned. It fortified my resolve to keep paying attention to the feelings in my body, bringing awareness to my interactions and creating space for reconnecting, helping my kids to make sense of what happened, and to do the repair work to find each other again.
This week's invitation: more love, less fear and the courage to prioritize saying "I'm sorry."